Friday, October 11, 2013

Crop Alert: October 11, 2013

This article was originally written for and distributed to farmers and other members of the agricultural industry in western New York.

Fumes in Manure Lagoons from Gypsum Bedding
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) fumes were detected during agitation of a manure lagoon on a farm that used recycled drywall for bedding in the region. These fumes can be deadly to people and livestock and form when gypsum is mixed with manure and stored under anaerobic conditions. The use of gypsum bedding is banned in the United Kingdom because of this risk. According to Wikipedia, "Hydrogen sulfide ... is a colorless gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs; it is heavier than air, very poisonous, corrosive, flammable and explosive." A factsheet with more information is avaibable at|1.

Planting Small Grains in October
With the delayed soybean harvest the planting of winter wheat, winter triticale, winter barley, and winter rye has been and continues to be late across western New York. These grains can still be planted in October, however they will produce little above ground growth prior to the winter. Applying high amounts of nitrogen in the spring split over two or three applications will still result in yields comparable to earlier planted wheat fields. However spring forage yields will only be about 2 tons DM/acre (about 5-6 as fed/acre) for October planted small grains compared to to 3-4 tons DM for early September plantings. Temperatures across the region will be ideal for planting these grains this coming week reaching the mid 60s. Planting with a drill and increasing the seeding rate are vital for successful late season planting. Seeding rates should also be adjusted based on soil conditions, Table 1.

Table 1: Winter Wheat Seeding Rates
Seeding rates are millions of seeds per acre.
Source: Ag Focus September 2013.

Seeds should be drilled 1-1.5 inches deep for good emergence. See examples below on how to calculate million/pounds of seed per acre.

Live seed % = Recommended rate / Percentage of live seed = Rate/acre
Example: 1,350,000 seeds / .90 live seeds = 1.48 million seeds/acre

To figure out how many pounds per acre, use the following formula.
Seeds per acre / # seeds/lb. = lb./acre
Example: 1,450,000 / 13,000 = 111.5 lb./acre

Starter Fertilizer. At the 2013 Soybean and Small Grains Congress, Peter Johnson emphasized that wheat should not be grown without a starter fertilizer. Yield losses of at least 8 bu/acre are common when starter fertilizer isn't used. He stressed that phosphorus was most important for wheat. He used the example that while soybeans only need 1 pound of P and corn 5 pounds for strong seedling establishment wheat needs 15 pounds. Follow soil sample recommendations and remember wheat grows best at a pH around 6.3. We have seen an increase in the number of fertilizer boxes and liquid applicators going on drills in recent years.

Fall Silage Harvests
Corn silage continues to be harvested throughout the region, especially in areas delayed by the continuing rain. Fourth (and in some cases 5th) cut haylage, oat silage, and sorghum-sudangrass silage have occurred and will continue through the end of October across western New York. While there have been a number of frosts that have stopped corn growth (and some of the sudangrass fields) it will take more severe frosts (low 20's) to stop the growth of all other silage plants. Drying will take longer under the cooler fall conditions. Chop and ensile these crops once the plants reach at least 30% DM and inoculate the haylage, small grain, and sudangrass silages with a Lactobacillus inoculant.

Osprey Herbicide Reminders from Danny Digiacomandrea, Bayer CropScience
Several questions have come up about using Osprey Herbicide in the fall. Our experience in NY so far is only with spring applications which have worked extremely well! Russ Hahn at Cornell has done some fall application research and so far spring applications have looked the best
• Osprey labeled at 4.75 oz/acre on winter wheat only. Do not use on barley.
• Postemergence activity only, no residual
• Controls rough stalk blue grass and suppresses cheat (under NY 24c Special Local Needs label – Check the federal label for more information), good activity on chickweed and henbit
• Make timely applications. This will provide best control and is key to eliminating
early weed competition. Research shows enormous yield benefits from early weed
• Maximum label size of rough stalk bluegrass is 2 tillers
• Maximum label size of susceptible broadleaves is 2 inches tall
• Application prohibited once wheat has reached jointing stage
• Do not combine Osprey with liquid fertilizer application
• Do not top-dress liquid or dry within 14 days of Osprey application
• Must use an adjuvant
Application of OSPREY® Herbicide must include a non-ionic surfactant plus ammonium nitrogen fertilizer or a methylated seed oil or a “basic blend” type adjuvant. Use only spray grade quality urea ammonium nitrogen fertilizer (28-0-0 to 32-0-0 at 1 – 2 qt/acre) or ammonium sulfate fertilizer (21-0-0-24 at 1.5 – 3 lbs. /acre). When ammonium nitrogen fertilizer is used in tank mixture with OSPREY® Herbicide, transient leaf burn may occur. Do not use additives that alter the spray solution below 6.0 pH. Best results are obtained at spray solution pH of 6.0 – 8.0. Organosilicone-based surfactants or crop oil concentrate surfactants are not recommended for use with OSPREY® Herbicide – See label for complete details!
• 15 GPA, flat-fan nozzles, no flood jets or air-induction nozzles
• Air temps: for best results spray when day temps are 50° or higher and night temps
stay above freezing
• Read and understand product label before use
• Questions contact Danny Digiacomandrea 585-330-3263

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Tillage Management

This article was originally written for and distributed to farmers and other members of the agricultural industry in western New York.

As the crops come off the fields, many tillage operations will take place this month across western New York. Fall tillage operations are often needed to manage residue, smooth out ruts in the field, dry out the soil, in addition to incorporating lime, fertilizer, and manure. A number of best management practices can be used to greatly reduce the risk of soil erosion.

Plant a Cover Crop
In October winter rye is the only reliable crop that will provide some cover over the winter. Many farmers in the region have successfully planted this crop after their fall tillage operations. Very few growing degree days are left so plant as soon as possible with a drill and increase the seeding rate from 2 bu/A to 3 bu/A. Timely spraying or spring tillage will be necessary to effectively control this cover crop. With warmer weather during the early part of the month, plantings of winter triticale and winter barley have a better chance of establishment before the winter.

Increase Surface Residue
Increasing the surface residue to 30% ground coverage from 0% results in a 50% decrease in soil erosion, Figure 1. Smaller decreases in soil erosion occur as more residue is left in the field. Managing low residue levels is easier than large amounts of corn stalks, straw, and other material in the spring while greatly reducing soil loss.

Figure 1: Effect of residue cover on soil erosion, expressed as the percent of that occurring relative to that for a bare surface. 
Adapted from Laflen and Colvin (1981).

Till on a Contour
If ground must left open over the winter without much residue or a cover crop, tilling on a contour perpendicular to the direction of run-off can reduce soil erosion, Figure 2. In some parts of western New York strips of crops are still planted on the hill contours to further prevent erosion losses. However there are still soil erosion losses during the tillage operations on the sides of hills. Adopting reduce tillage practices on the hill-slopes will further decrease soil losses.

Figure 2: Farming on the Contour

Changs Tillage Equipment
Every piece of tillage equipment has a different impact on soil erosion. Often there is another piece of iron that can meet your needs while reducing erosion. Check out the NRCS’s Tillage Guide (|7) for more information. Using shallow tillage at an angle across the field can fill in ruts from previous field operations while reducing the destruction of soil structure. Vertical tillage equipment has become popular in recent years due to their shallow tillage of the soil while preparing a desirable seedbed.  Soil with good structure is more resistant to erosion. This is due to root channels from previous crops, some residue on the soil surface, and high populations of earthworms (and other animals) that create channels for water to flow more quickly through the soil ultimately resulting in less soil erosion.

Bottom Line:
1. Farmers can minimize soil erosion caused by fall tillage by planting cover crops, leaving some residue, tilling/farming on a contour, and changing the piece of tillage equipment used.